Road

Thursday’s Eurofile: Raisin rides again; Di Luca refocuses on ProTour and a correction

Saul Raisin is back on the bike and preparing for the upcoming Tour de Suisse (June 11-19). The 22-year-old Crédit Agricole rider said he’s been training normally for two weeks following an incident in the opening stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk in early May. A motorcycle knocked him off his bike during the stage, injuring his hip and collarbone. “I am training and riding again. I have been riding on the road for two weeks now and my first race back will be the Tour of Swiss,” Raisin told VeloNews. “I have no set goals but just to finish and help my team as much as possible. It is good

By Andrew Hood

Saul Raisin is back on the bike and preparing for the upcoming Tour de Suisse (June 11-19).

The 22-year-old Crédit Agricole rider said he’s been training normally for two weeks following an incident in the opening stage of the Four Days of Dunkirk in early May. A motorcycle knocked him off his bike during the stage, injuring his hip and collarbone.

“I am training and riding again. I have been riding on the road for two weeks now and my first race back will be the Tour of Swiss,” Raisin told VeloNews. “I have no set goals but just to finish and help my team as much as possible. It is good to be almost back.”

Raisin finished 13th overall and second in the young rider’s category at the Tour de Georgia. The Tour de Suisse will be his ProTour debut.

Di Luca to reload for ProTour run
Danilo Di Luca is more than satisfied with his Giro d’Italia despite finishing fourth just off the final podium.

Nicknamed “The Killer,” Di Luca delivered one surprise after another, winning two stages and spending six days in the maglia rosa. Many expected him to fade in the big mountains, but he hung tough, only losing serious time in the climbing stage to Colle di Tenda.

“This Giro has been a revelation for me. I always thought I could challenge in a grand tour, but I never knew it was possible until this year,” Di Luca said. “Now I will come back next year and try to win. This Giro has proven I can climb the big mountains.”

A winner of the “baby Giro” in 1998, Di Luca barnstormed into his early years as a pro, but endured three frustrating seasons with Saeco. A new start at Liquigas-Bianchi seems to have helped the 29-year-old rediscover his confidence.

“They’ve treated me like a captain and supported me in the things I needed to do,” said Di Luca, referring to his training camp in Mexico in February. “I could better prepare for the season this year.”

That preparation paid off with an impressive spring, including victories at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallone. Many expected him to taper off, but he roared through the Giro without missing a beat.

Next year he might skip the spring classics to prepare exclusively for the Giro. In the meantime, he’ll take a pass on the Tour de France and return to dispute the fall classics to defend his lead in the ProTour series.

After his strong Giro, he’s widened his lead to 184 points to 112 points to second-place Tom Boonen (Quick Step). Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) is third with 111.

ProTour standings through Giro d’Italia
1. Danilo Di Luca (Ita), Liquigas-Bianchi 184 points
2. Tom Boonen (Bel), Quick Step 112
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita), Fassa Bortolo 111
4. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa), Rabobank 94
5. Paolo Savoldelli (Ita), Discovery Channel 89
6. Davide Rebellin (Ita), Gerolsteiner 86
7. Michael Boogerd (Ned), Rabobank 80
8. Bobby Julich (USA), Team CSC 75
9. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel Pro 75
10. Jens Voigt (Ger), Team CSC 72

Andreu also finished all three grand tours
In a note in Wednesday’s Eurofile concerning American riders who finished all three grand tours, we overlooked Frankie Andreu. The record for grand tour finishes among Americans is Andy Hampsten, who finished 8 Tours and 7 Giri, giving a total of 15 grand tours. Little Mig to race through Beijing
Miguel Martinez says he wants to keep racing his mountain bike through the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. The 2000 Olympic champion admits he’s not as competitive as he used to be, but Little Mig still hoping to earn a berth for a final run for gold.

“I still love to win. If I am not at the World Cup level, say in the top 10, I should just quit racing and look for something else,” Martinez said in an interview with Velo101.com. “The sensations are coming back. I finishing close to the podium. I think with time I will be able to win a World Cup again.”

Martinez raced two years with Mapei on the road scene without much success before returning to the mountain bike scene last year. He’s now racing with Max Commencal, his former benefactor during the glory days at Sunn bikes. New sponsor for Vuelta
The Vuelta a España has a new title sponsor with IFEMA, a Madrid-based convention bureau. The logo will appear on the Vuelta’s “golden jersey” as well as other start and finish-line banners.

Vicioso takes early lead
Angel Vicioso (Liberty Seguros) won the opening stage of the Bicicleta Vasca on Wednesday, taking a sprint ahead of Jon Bru (Kaiku) and Joaquín Rodríguez (Saunier Duval) in a group of 10 riders. The main bunch rolled through 27 back.

The race continues Thursday with the hilly 181km second stage from Sopelana to Tolosa, with the Cat. 1 Asentizio climb, three Cat. 3s and two Cat. 2s, including the Alto de Henrialde some 3km from the finish.